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ATA | VĀSA Reflections of an Ocean - Back in the Water House

Back in the Water House - Shaping the Artistry of Motherhood

Saturday 28 September, 3.30pm Director/Producer: Pauline Adalid Duration: 13 minutes Country: Aotearoa, New Zealand (2018)


Back in the Water House is a short documentary featuring collaborative mother-daughter tapa artists Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows and Tui Emma Gillies. Tapa is a cloth made from the inner bark of a mulberry tree. The bark is stripped off, soaked and continuously beaten until it assumes the texture of a flat canvas.

Sulieti is Tongan, born in the island of Falevai, Tonga and Tui is Kiwi-Tongan, born in New Zealand. Sulieti and Tui both show a strong passion in their work. Though very different in their art style – Sulieti being traditional and Tui having done more contemporary pieces, their relationship is hugely influenced and bounded stronger by tapa.

Reading about their work lead first-time Director/Producer Pauline Adalid to share their story. She recounts, “Their relationship is incredible and seeing how they work together brings me a feeling that is so familiar. I would always think of my mother. This is a story about motherhood, this is a story about women, and how tapa binds Sulieti and Tui together to make incredible pieces of art.”

Shot in Tui’s beautiful home in Kawakawa and using archival footage shot by Tui herself, this interview-driven documentary provides an account of their work, their efforts and ultimately, their irreplaceable relationship.

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